UCL Psychology and Language Sciences



Am I Eligable to Apply? / Will My Application be Accepted?

You need to have or expect to have a relevant first degree of 1st class or 2.1 standard in the UK system, or a Master's degree, or equivalent for overseas degree to be eligible to apply.

We are looking for applicants who have demonstrated ability in research. Often your previous experience and performance, such as in an undergraduate or a Master's research project, will show whether research is right for you and you are right for research.

The whole application is used to make a decision on whether to offer you a place: This includes your academic transcript/s, your research proposal, your contact with, and provisional support from a potential supervisor in the Language and Cognition Department, your previous employment; your references and personal statement.

You can make the best possible application by writing a feasible research proposal and a strong personal statement.

What makes a good research proposal?

All good proposals must be both informative and persuasive. You need to clearly describe the topic, its aims and objectives, and its methodology. This should be done as concisely as possible. Your initial proposal - prior to contacting a potential supervisor should be about 1500 words and should not exceed 3000 words.  If the potential supervisor is interested in your proposal the two of you will usually refine and develop it together to produce a final research proposal that can be submitted with your application.

Tips on writing a research proposal

A good proposal should have the following basic elements, though their order and weighting can vary.  Aim for about 1500 words.

  • A clear and descriptive working title
  • Aims and objectives of your research
  • An explanation of the reasons why your research has relevance to your discipline (note that you need to identify the 'gap' in the research literature that your research findings will attempt to fill).
  • An outline of your theoretical framework and an explanation of its suitability for your topic.
  • A brief analytic discussion of the current research literature on your topic - what is the current state of your field? How would your research contribute to the advancement of your field?
  • An outline of key research questions
  • A description of the methods you anticipate using to answer your questions, with a rationale for your choice of methods
  • A brief statement about research training you may need (e.g. statistics; qualitative analysis methods, etc).

What makes a strong personal statement?

Your personal statement should be concise and clear.  You should demonstrate an understanding of what is entailed in doing a PhD at UCL.  Include comments about how completing MPhil/PhD in Language and Cognition will benefit your further academic or professional career.  This is your opportunity to show how your independent study, work-experience or personal interests contribute to your understanding.

How do I find funding for my MPhil/PhD?

Once you have a supervisor who supports your research proposal your supervisor will be able to discuss the funding options available.

Look out for events that are organised by the department to give information on various funding options.

How do I apply?

All applications are completed through the UCL online application system. Before applying please do read through the 'application guideline for research programmes'.

When you are ready to apply scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the ‘accept and apply’ button.

It is a long time since I graduated, do I need an academic reference?

Yes, in almost all cases your undergraduate and/or postgraduate university will still be able to provide an academic reference, whether this is from a tutor or a project supervisor. As the MPhil/PhD in Language and Cognition is an academic undertaking, these references are important. If it’s difficult to get an academic reference, get in touch with us to talk about it.

What are the English language requirements for overseas students?

Before you enrol you will be expected to evidence English language proficiency at the UCL Good level, UCL now accepts a wide range of tests as evidence.

I haven't completed my Masters degree, can I still apply?

Yes, you will need to provide a transcript of the results you have achieved to date when you apply. If an offer of admission is made it will be on condition that you complete your degree to the required standard before you start your MPhil/PhD.

I don't have a Masters degree. Can I still apply?

It is sometimes possible to be accepted onto a PhD programme even without a Masters degree. A potential supervisor may decide to accept you directly onto a programme if you are able to demonstrate a sufficient level of knowledge and skills. Having a publication or previous research you have done can be helpful here.

Alternatively, you may apply for a "1+3" programme, in which you complete a Masters degree before moving directly into the PhD. Each programme requires different levels of pre-planning, and students are encouraged to think about potential supervisors for the PhD component, which starts in the second year, before starting out. These programmes are particularly useful for students who are moving into Language and Cognition-related research from other fields, and those who do not have substantial previous research experience.

When should I apply?

The application deadline is listed in the Key Information box at the top of this webpage.  It is recommended that you apply as soon as you are able as if you apply later, delays gathering references and completing checks can hinder your application. You should also be aware of any funding deadlines that you want to apply for.

Can I work while doing my MPhil/PhD in Language and Cognition?

Full-time Home students

Students are able to work whilst doing you MPhil/PhD but we would expect full-time students to be able to attend departmental meetings and seminars and to attend at least two taught modules in the first year.  Students need to be progressing sufficiently to be ready to upgrade from MPhil to PhD.

There are restrictions if you are funded by a research council.  You are not able to receive a scholarship if you have a full-time job or have a part-time job that is a permanent post.

Part-time Home students

You are able to work as a part-time student as long as you are able to commit to attending supervisory meetings and seminars during the first two years.

International students

If you require a Tier 4 visa to study you must not work more than the maximum number of hours allowed by your visa. More information is on the Tier 4 Responsibilities webpage

All applicants should be aware that doing a PhD represents a significant time commitment and we are unable to make allowances for employment.  Some students in the past have found it challenging to continue working while they study.  It would be a good idea to discuss any plans to work whilst studying with your supervisor in advance.